Almost anyone who grows up in Terre Haute, Indiana knows the legend of Stiffy Green, the story of an old man and his dog that were so close that even death could not separate them. Here's a first-hand account of looking for the ghost dog.

A Nighttime Visit To Highland Cemetery

One night, while handing out with my older cousin and her friends, we decided to go to the legendary and spooky Highland Cemetery and see the stuffed dog Stiggy Green, with the emerald eyes for ourselves. Legend had it that his eyes glowed and you could hear him growl if you got too close to the glass doors.

A Local Legend

We had heard that the dog's mater had died and the Stiffy was so upset, that he died on the steps to the mausoleum. The wife of the dog's owner decided to have Stiffy stuffed so he could always stand guard, by his master, and protect him inside the crypt. During the taxidermy, the dog's eyes were replaced with shiny green stones. The stones we had heard would glow in the darkness from inside the tomb.

The Eyes Glowed

As we cautiously approached the limestone building that the master and his beloved dog rested, we saw nothing that glowed. But, as we peered into the windows in the heavy door frames we could see the silhouette of the dog. That, in itself, was freaky. When tried to see the outline of the dog a little better, that is when it happened. I think it might have been the streetlights from the road that made them glow, kind of like a reflection, but they glowed and we all fell back onto the ground scared to death.

Trying To Leave

At that point, we decided it was time to leave. We had seen what we came to see and were afraid to see any more. As we tried to make our way back to the car, we passed by what we thought was an old abandoned crematorium. We could see the front doors open, and just like stupid kids in a scary movie, some of us when inside. I was not one of those people, but I sure didn't want to stay out amongst the gravestones by myself, so I too went inside.

 The Prank...

Keep in mind we had no flashlights, and cell phones weren't a thing, so the main room was only lit by the moonlight. I could see shelves along the wall and what looked like several long tables in the middle of the room.  We continued to slowly walk through the room to, hopefully, exit out the matching set of doors on the other side. I was just following the group, wishing the room was;t soo big, and we were back outside and headed to the cars. To keep from freaking out, I tried to just look straight ahead to the door. But, as I walked by one of the tables, a hand reached out and grabbed my arm.

...And The Ghost

I screamed which made everyone else scream, except a few of the guys who started laughing. They had planned the whole thing. The crematorium prank. A guy, one of my cousin's friends, sat up and got off of the table. Most of us were trying to calm down, while the pranksters kept laughing. That was until we heard the bark at the door. We all shut up and stood frozen. We were afraid of what we would see in the doorway. As we slowly turned to look at the doorway, we saw the silhouette of a dog sitting and looking at us that looked just like Stiffy. It was the same size and the same shape we had seen in the mausoleum. We all turned and ran screaming toward the other door which was locked. No lie, it was locked. When we looked back, the dog was gone.

Never Again

We finally got the courage to leave out the door we came in the same door where we had seen the dog. As we walked back to the cars, we never stopped or said a word. Sure, in the years following, we would tell the story and laugh at our experience, always explaining that the dog in the doorway must have been a real dog from the neighborhood who heard us being loud in the graveyard and came over to investigate. Sure, that's what it had to be, right? Every time we tell the story, there are uneasy glances exchanged among us. We know what really happened that night, we saw the ghost of Stiffy Green.

The History and Legends of Highland Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the far east side of Terre Haute, IN. It sits along Old US Hwy 41. The website, A Grave Interest, tells of the legends that still live on in Highland Cemetery.

Fisrt Resident

The first person buried here was Samantha McPherson who died of typhoid and was buried on October 29, 1884. She was 30 years old. Highland Lawn now has almost 27,000 graves.

The Legend of Stiffy Green

Stiffy mourned himself to death. Heinl’s wife paid tribute to his unwavering love and devotion and had him stuffed in the sitting position he had assumed for so long on those cold mausoleum steps. Stiffy was then placed inside the tomb, reunited at last with his master.

Out For A Walk wasn’t long before visitors began noticing that Stiffy had mysteriously moved from one side of the tomb to the other, and back. Rumors spread that early in the morning or at twilight you could see an elderly man and his small dog walking near the Heinl crypt, the smell the rich pipe smoke in the air. -

Another Strange, But True Story

The second well-known story involves the Sheets family mausoleum, where Martin Sheets, his wife Susan, and baby Ethel are interred. Born in 1853, Martin lived into his early 70’s, passing in 1926.  He saw many technological changes come about during that time.  One new-fangled invention he found an odd use for was the telephone.  Martin had one installed in the family mausoleum, just in case he was buried unconscious, but alive, and needed to summon help. It was stipulated in his will that a phone line be run from his crypt to the cemetery office.  He set up an account with Indiana Bell Telephone that kept the line paid for and active, just in case. -

Did Anyone Ever Make A Call? 

The story could end here as a very odd but interesting bit of cemetery lore, but it doesn’t.  When Sheets’ wife, Susan died years later, she was found in the kitchen with the phone in her hand.  Many assumed she had been attempting to summon help.  But according to legend, when the mausoleum was unlocked to place Susan’s casket next to her husband, cemetery workers discovered the phone in the crypt was off the hook! -


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